What inspired you to come up with your new single, Hanuman Chalisa?
Memory of my grandmother triggered off this impulse of coming up with this single. After work when I was sitting in the studio by myself I just picked up the mike and sang the Hanuman Chalisa. I recorded the song in 2 hours flat. I burnt a cd, went home, listened to the song and went to sleep with a smile on my face.
Devotional songs have a very niche audience. How did you give it a wider appeal?
I didn’t think about the appeal or the market or whether I should do some other prayer. I did exactly what came to my mind, what my heart and soul wanted. And i thought of my grandmother and that’s it.
What’s the response you have been getting on it?
The response has been fantastic from my friends in the industry, from Abhishek Bachchan, Ritiesh Deshmukh, Karan Johar. Infact, Mr Bachchan launched the single for me. I’ve been getting a great response from everybody in the industry and from the people who follow me on Twitter and Facebook. I’m grateful to them for accepting my own version of Hanuman Chalisa.
You also have successful singles in Marathi, Saazni and Saavli and Butterfly in Telugu. How was the experience?
I like to constantly challenge myself with this mindspace of doing singles. When the first tune came to my head after almost 13 years of commercial music, I went about it just did it the way I would while writing a book or doing a sketch; with an empty mind. I chose a language which I was not familiar with. It’s all about not planning but just letting it flow. I’ve embarked on this journey and I’m just enjoying it.
Do you have any favourites from the new breed of singers?
A lot of them. Arijit Singh, Neeti Mohan, Papon, Sanam Puri. There are atleast 1-15 new singers introduced everyday. I wish them all the very best.
You share a special bond with SRK. How different was it working on Happy New Year after Ra.One?
Working with SRK is always a lot of fun. We have had a lot of jammin’ sessions in my studio and when Vishal, Farah, SRK and I come together, it’s madness. We try out different styles, genres, so it’s always great fun.
What do you enjoy more, singing or composing?
I enjoy both. I am really thankful to God that I have this gift. So I am just trying to learn more everyday and not repeat myself. I try to push myself to do something I have never done before.
Do you think singing based reality shows are helpful?
There are very few I feel, there should be more because it helps a lot of singers to showcase them. Also, as an artist you get a lot of experience, being in front of the camera, on the stage with the spotlight on you. It gives you confidence. It makes you learn from other contestants and there’s a personal involvement of judges. There should be more shows like that.
How easy or difficult is it to judge a reality show?
It’s not easy at all. You need a lot of energy and strength to see a contestant have his or her heart break during elimination. It’s like seeing one of your kids run a race and lose. You want do a lot more for them. The elimination bit is so painful that I feel like leaving that place at the very same moment.
Whom do you consider as your toughest competitor?
Shekhar Ravjiani. I compete with myself every single day and make sure that I push myself to do better.
We’ve heard that the proceeds of your album are going for charity, so what is that one social cause you feel strongly about?
I feel strongly about child education, upbringing. Ma Niketan, the charity that I support they look after 300 girls between 4-12. They take care of every aspect of the child till she grows up and gets married. I believe the girl child should be encouraged to take up a calling of their choice. Never underestimate the girl child because they will rule the world.
With such good looks, was acting in movies ever on your agenda? Have you ever received any offer?
I was offered a few films. I don’t mind trying something new. Today i am a producer for a company called 100 frames, we make ad films. I constantly keep on trying new things. If it’s meant to happen it will, if not then it won’t. But I will definitely give movies a try. A person should try something new in their life and not be afraid of failure.
Any message for your Follo’ers?
I’ve heard that a lot of communal comments are written on social networking platforms. Religion is something that we people have created. We need to be human beings first and not get into this divisive mode. We are people first and we need to respect that.